Papal Preacher Calls For a Fast

BOSTON GLOBE, Dec. 16 — Father Raniero Cantalamessa, the preacher to the papal household, urged the Pope to call a worldwide day of fasting and penitence to ask forgiveness for the clergy sexual abuse scandals.

During a pre-Christmas homily at a Vatican chapel, Father Cantalamessa said the Church had “wept and sighed” recently over “abominations committed by her very ministers and bishops.” He said the time had come for the Church to “weep before God,” to publicly express remorse and to show solidarity with the victims.

Vatican to Put Its Best Foot Forward
THE SPORTING NEWS, Dec. 15 — The Vatican is getting ready to battle it out with priests in Rome — on a soccer field. According to The Sporting News magazine, the inaugural Clericus Cup will kick off in February 2007, and the Vatican will be one of the 16 teams. Pope John Paul II was a keen sportsman and played soccer in his youth, mostly as a goalkeeper.

Benedict the Unlikely Pin-up Pope

BBC NEWS, Dec. 17 — Pope Benedict has agreed to be photographed for a charity calendar produced by the Italian magazine Famiglia Christiana. Veteran Vatican observer John Wilkins said the result, called The Pope Domestic, shows the Holy Father quite in character. Photographer Giancarlo Giuliani shot all the photographs in a single day, during Benedict’s vacation at Castel Gandolfo. (CNS photo/Alessia Giuliani, Catholic Press Photo)

Italy’s New Legislation Not ‘Anti-family’

AGI, Dec. 11 — Italy’s minister of foreign affairs Massimo D’Alema said the Italian law regarding special rights for unmarried and homosexual couples is not anti-family. “Our law is different from Zapatero’s,” D’Alema said, referring to Spain’s legislation of same-sex “marriage.” Despite D’Alema’s insistence, however, the legislation will reward those living in illicit unions, giving them the same rights as those in traditional marriages.